A former member of the National Public Health Emergency Team said Ireland imposed measures during the Covid-19 pandemic that unduly restricted basic freedoms, reports RTE.
Professor Martin Cormican, a professor of bacteriology at the University of Galway Medical School, said the approach taken here relied too much on fear to influence behaviour and undermined many of the foundations of rational infection prevention and control.
In his briefing for the meeting, Professor Cormican said Ireland had focused too much on short-term data such as case numbers and mortality, which over restricted fundamental freedoms for too long and caused collateral damage to the health and well-being of people, particularly vulnerable people, reports RTE.
Professor Cormican said vaccination was the exceptional measure that reduced covid-19 deaths and believed it would have been easier to opt for compulsory vaccination for international travel.
When at NPHET, Professor Cormican was the clinical lead in infection prevention for HSE and was against some measures at the time.
The Tánaiste said an assessment of the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic is needed and lessons to be learned from the way the crisis was handled.
In terms of limiting the number of lives lost and compared to global macro data, “Ireland did well”, Micheál Martin said, reports RTE.
This evaluation should be done within a year, he said.
Labour TD Duncan Smith, the party’s health spokesman and member of the Covid-19 Response Task Force, told RTÉ’s News at One that an inquiry into Ireland’s handling of the pandemic is needed to form a model for prepare for the next pandemic or in the future.
He said Professor Martin Cormican’s comments will inspire many reactions, but the reason why a public inquiry is needed is that without it there will be more newspaper articles, academic journals and articles on “what we did or didn’t do”, reports RTE.
He said: “If we are ever to have to go through this again and don’t have a template to draw from, all we will have are articles like this which isn’t a good template for us to learn from to do things better in the future,” reports RTE.
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